NATO says it has authorized additional forces for Kosovo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -NATO has authorized additional forces for Kosovo, the military alliance said on Friday, following the worst violence in northern Kosovo in years.

A battle between police and armed Serbs holed up in a monastery turned a quiet village in northern Kosovo into a war zone earlier this week.

NATO said in a statement that it had “authorized additional forces to address the current situation” but did not immediately specify how many or from which countries. A later statement from Britain’s Ministry of Defence said it had transferred command of a battalion of troops to the alliance.

Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008 after a guerrilla uprising and 1999 NATO intervention, accuses Serbia of arming and supporting the Serb fighters.

Serbia, which has not recognised its former province’s independence, blames Kosovo for precipitating violence by mistreating ethnic Serb residents. Serbia and the main Serb political group in Kosovo have proclaimed public mourning for the Serbs killed in the battle.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence said it had transferred command of the 1st Battalion of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment – a reserve force for NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) – to NATO so it could provide support if required.

It said the battalion had recently arrived in the region for a long-planned training exercise.

(Reporting by Andrew Gray, Charlotte Van Campenhout; additional reporting by James Davey in London; Editing by Alex Richardson and Grant McCool)